National initiative InnovateHer, which is dedicated to giving girls aged 12-16 the skills, self-belief and confidence to pursue a career in technology, has launched across eight schools in Manchester.

With support from local partners Co-op Digital, Manchester City Council, Code ComputerLove and Northcoders, the InnovateHer team will be delivering the eight-week after-school programme from September, working in areas across Greater Manchester.

InnovateHer aims to encourage greater equality and diversity in technical roles by enabling pupils to interact with leading employers and industry role models and learn new digital skills.

The initiative – which has reached around 200 girls to date – is an extension of the success Liverpool Girl Geeks has had in Liverpool City Region since its launch in 2013.

In partnership with national policy makers, local government and industry leaders, InnovateHer is now one step closer to its goal of establishing a national network of school-based programmes to tackle the digital skills gap, which is currently estimated to cost the UK economy £63 billion in lost GDP.

“We’ve seen some fantastic results from our work to date,” said InnovateHer co-founder Jo Morfee. “Girls have increased in confidence and self-belief and told us they want to work in areas like cyber security, games, and artificial intelligence.

“We want to bring our programme to every town and city in the North to empower more girls to enter and disrupt traditionally male-dominated industries.

“This is an exciting new chapter for us and we are keen to keep working with new and existing national partners like the Co-op to help make businesses and communities prosper.”

Gail Lyon, head of digital engagement at Co-op Digital, said: “It’s exciting to be supporting this very important initiative.

Gender balance is something we’re working hard to achieve within our own internal digital teams, so it’s ideal to be able to support this work to inspire girls in some of our own Co-op Academy schools.”